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Contraception key in climate change fight: Gore and Gates

Stopping overpopulation is one way the dangers of climate change can be mitigated, according to two of the most prominent believers in global warming.

Former Vice President Al Gore and Microsoft founder Bill Gates said at the World Economic Forum in Davos that contraception is a key in controlling the proliferation of unusual weather they say is endangering the world.

"Depressing the rate of child mortality, educating girls, empowering women and making fertility management ubiquitously available ... is crucial to the future shape of human civilization," said Gore, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 for his work on global warming.

Gore said Africa's population is expected to surpass India's and China's by the mid-21st century and will be more than both combined by the end of the century.

Former Vice President Al Gore listens during a session in Davos on Jan. 24, 2014.
Eric Piermont | AFP | Getty Images
Former Vice President Al Gore listens during a session in Davos on Jan. 24, 2014.

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Though Gore said corporations collectively are coming around to the dangers of global warming—a condition that has been the subject of fierce dispute—they still too often treat the atmosphere "like an open sewer."

"These extreme weather events which are now 100 times more common than 30 years ago are really waking people's awareness all over the world, and I think that is a game-changer," he said.

Likewise, Gates said progress is being made, particularly in terms of managing their way through natural disasters.

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He, too, made a pitch for birth control as a way to reduce excess population that generates pollution, which in turn creates unusual weather events.

"If you get the health improved, if you get the availability of contraceptives, then families will voluntarily choose to have less children," Gates said.

Both men spoke as the U.S. East Coast battles a brutally cold, snowy winter—while the weather at Davos, Switzerland, actually has been warmer than usual.

—By CNBC's Jeff Cox. Follow him on Twitter @JeffCoxCNBCcom.

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